What is Lady Gaga’s Real Name?

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga | Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

She has been compared to icons like Madonna and Cher, but fans of the multi-talented musician Lady Gaga agree that she is in a category all her own. For over a decade, Lady Gaga has been hard at work in the music business, often writing, producing, and singing her own songs. While Lady Gaga doesn’t often discuss her early life (or personal life) in interviews, one of the questions she is asked the most often is how she came up with her unique name. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of Lady Gaga, and discover how she got her start, and how she chose to define herself.

When did Lady Gaga start singing?

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Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28th, 1986. She’s a true New Yorker and has lived in the city for most of her life. Stefani Germanotta, as she was known throughout her childhood and teenage years, was a talented girl, and by age 17 had started attending music school. In 2005, Germanotta pulled out of school in order to focus exclusively on developing her career in music.

For the next several years, she developed her act and wrote songs with her producer boyfriend, Rob Fusari. While there have been some mixed messages from Germanotta about the real origin of her stage name Lady Gaga, on several occasions, including a 2010 interview with Oprah, where she credits Fusari with helping her create the name. 

Was Lady Gaga influenced by Queen?

When she first burst onto the music scene in 2009, Lady Gaga was over the top, and best known for her crazy costumes, including the infamous “meat dress,” where she wrapped herself entirely in raw meat. Her antics and clothing choices were never overshadowed by her undeniable talent, however, and she soon developed a reputation for soaring vocals, impressive range, and incredible creativity.

Her versatility was initially compared to one other major act of the ’70s and ’80s – the legendary rock band Queen. Lady Gaga might have taken some serious inspiration from the group as well – according to Fusari, and even to Gaga herself, the name Lady Gaga was directly derived from the 1984 Queen hit ‘Radio Ga Ga.’ Supposedly, Fusari was texting Gaga, and his phone autocorrected the song ‘Radio Ga Ga’ to ‘Lady Ga Ga.’ The rest is history, and although Fusari and Gaga had quite a messy breakup, they will always share that exciting bit of music history. 

What does Lady Gaga like to be called now?

In the years since becoming a certified superstar, Lady Gaga’s image has undergone a number of changes. She has worked in a wide variety of musical genres, including country, pop, rock, and disco-tech, and has branched out into the world of acting. Gaga made headlines in 2018 when she starred in Bradley Cooper’s critically-acclaimed drama, A Star is Born, and is open to more acting roles in the future.

These days, Gaga doesn’t seem to have one set name that she prefers to go by. Many times on the press junket for A Star is Born, Cooper referred to Gaga by her birth name of Stefani, and Gaga certainly didn’t seem to mind, perhaps signaling that this is still the name that close family and friends know her as. However, in a 2018 interview with Vogue, Gaga asked to be called “Lady,” a much more dignified and impressive-sounding title.

Whatever the name, Lady Gaga has become a global superstar, with a Vegas residency, a hit movie, and an honored place in the history of music and pop culture. No matter what her next transformation might be, her fans will be there waiting.